College of Pharmacy classes begin with promise of career-long collaboration

The first class on the first day at the first pharmacy college in North Texas, also the first to be located on the campus of an academic health science center, began August 19 with a pledge.

"We only have you for four years, but the relationship we will form isn’t just for four years," said Lawrence Cohen, PharmD, Professor of Pharmacotherapy and Associate Dean for Clinical Programs. "It’s for the rest of your career."

With those words, classes officially began at the UNT System College of Pharmacy. About 80 students selected from nearly 350 applicants comprise the inaugural class of 2017.

These pioneering students – who received their white coats symbolizing professionalism, responsibility and compassion at a ceremony two days earlier – are embarking on a pharmacy education that’s unique in Texas. The College of Pharmacy is situated on the campus of UNT Health Science Center, which means that pharmacy students are training alongside future physicians, biomedical researchers and other health professionals.

Students will get a better sense of this multidisciplinary approach to health care later in the week when they team with fellow Health Science Center students from the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine and School of Health Professions at an inter-professional, cross-programming event. Nursing students from Texas Christian University also will attend.

At this event, future pharmacists, physicians, physician assistants, nurses and physical therapists will form small teams to examine case studies and determine the best way to treat hypothetical patients. More than 600 students are expected to participate under the supervision of UNTHSC faculty.

"Our hope is that you will begin to have an appreciation for the different disciplines involved in caring for patients," Cohen told his students.

An emphasis on the pharmacist-patient relationship is one of the hallmarks of the College of Pharmacy under the direction of its founding dean, Myron Jacobson, PhD. The four-year program also will encourage the integration of research, medication management and teamwork across the health care spectrum.

Students will undertake three years of classroom study, laboratory work and early clinical experiences. Fourth-year students cycle through advanced clinical rotations. At the end of their studies, students will receive a doctorate of pharmacy, known as a PharmD degree.

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